Simply Delicious Slow Cooker Meals

Crockpot recipes are the quintessential week day meals for busy families.  We have been stricter with meal prepping and the crock pot has helped tremendously. Not only are they easy and simple, but they often contain enough food for leftovers to be enjoyed the next day.

Here are some recipes that we have recently enjoyed:

  • This Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo is deliciously simple. We will definitely be making this meal again with a side salad. My advice is to not mix the cream cheese until instructed to do so and to add a bit of extra broth after a couple hours of cooking. Feel free to add spice to the dish if you like a little extra kick. It heats up decently well for lunch the next day too.
  • I love this hearty Slow Cooker Tomato, Kale, and Quinoa Soup. The kale wilts beautifully and the quinoa soaks up all of the flavors of this super simple and yummy soup. It’s a great addition to any chilly day.
  • If you are craving comfort food, you have to try this Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes recipe. Sloppy Joes are a meal that I grew up with and recently I have been wanting my childhood favorites – this is an awesome vegan alternative. My brother even loved them! I ate mine as an open-faced sandwich and we had plenty for leftovers.

 

There are so many amazing options for easy vegan dinner recipes online. Do some research and got cooking! It’s Veganuary (Vegan January) and there has never been a better time to join a healthier and cruelty-free lifestyle.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Fondue for Two (or Four)

My husband and I used to love going to The Melting Pot whenever we were at the Syracuse, NY mall. The last few times we went shopping, they were not open and we heard recently that they are closed for good. Now where will we go to enjoy the fondue experience? Well, no worries, because we now make our own. We recently bought a fondue kit from Bed Bath and Beyond as one of our early Christmas presents and have already put use to it. If you don’t want to go out and buy one of these, you can always use a crock pot, but we like the authenticity of a fondue kit. Not to mention, for less than $60 for the kit, we can enjoy fondue whenever we want. We were spending over $100 every time we went to a restaurant for this treat (not to mention over an hour of driving each way), so after one use it has already paid for itself.

This Vegan Mushroom Fondue recipe is the delicious works of “The Spruce Eats”. We used cubes of Italian bread and cauliflower as dippers, but it would also be great with cucumbers, broccoli, and pretzels. We didn’t have vegan bouillon cubes or miso, so we just seasoned with spices in our pantry. Next time we plan to try the recipe as written and I bet it will somehow be even better.

We also made our own broth fondue to cook veggies in. We used vegetable broth, wine, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a bunch of other seasonings. We added diced sweet potato and onions to the broth to cook while we dipped mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, and celery until tender. For dipping, we used Dijon mustard, teriyaki sauce, and a poppy seed dressing. Oh, and my husband enjoyed some sake while I sipped on some sparkling grape juice. Yummy!

There are so many ways to personalize your fondue experience. Next time, we plan to try a vegan cheese and berry dessert fondue. For us, it’s not as much about the food as it is about sitting down, taking our time, talking, experiencing, and creating memories (although it was incredibly delicious).

We are planning to add fondue to our New Years Eve party menu. I can’t wait to share how it goes with you!

Have you ever tried fondue? You don’t have to give it up just because your diet changes! You can still enjoy the best things in life with a few alterations.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

P.S. Our urge to fondue at home may or may not be correlated to our recent obsession with “That ’70s Show” – the jury is still out.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Things were tough financially when I was in nursing school. Even though my husband (boyfriend at the time) worked full time and I worked several part time jobs, we were struggling to get by. At the time, we were renting a one bedroom apartment. We were always on the run and our grocery budget was minuscule. There were weeks when we had $10 in our bank account after bills and groceries. We thought we were eating as well as we could for the lack of funds we had. I remember thinking one day that I couldn’t recall the last time I had a fruit or vegetable. We were living off of gummy fruit snacks and cracker sandwiches. That’s when the pounds started to pack on and I started to feel sluggish. I wish I knew then what I know now. There are so many options available for healthy eating at an affordable price.

  • You can get a bag of baby carrots for less than a dollar. They come peeled and cut, so all you have to do is enjoy them. You can also get a bunch of celery for super cheap! Cut it up and put it in a reusable container for when you are ready to snack on them. You can pair these both with homemade hummus! We buy our chickpeas from a can (I know, it’s better if you cook them yourself, but I just haven’t carved out the time for that yet) and they are less than 70 cents each. Add the (drained and rinsed) chickpeas to your food processor or blender along with a bit of olive oil and whatever else you would like (garlic, crushed red pepper, diced red peppers, seasonings, lemon juice, dill, jalapeno,…) and blend until smooth. Celery is also great with peanut butter and raisins. Yes, I said it, I love ants on a log.
  • Bananas are a super cheap, yet delicious, fruit. You can eat them plain, make ice cream, put peanut butter on them, or bake with them. When we notice the bananas in our house are becoming super ripe, we peel them, cut them, put them in a freezer bag (two bananas per bag), and freeze them. When we are in the mood for ice cream, we grab a bag of the bananas and blend them in the food processor until smooth. It tastes just like banana ice cream.
  • Frozen vegetables are a great option if you are pressed on time and worried that produce will go bad before you get the chance to eat it. You can get a large bag of frozen vegetables (I love the Asian styled seasoned vegetables) for a reasonable price. I always look at the generic brand’s options for products when available. They are cheaper options that are often similar in taste. You can cook stir fry vegetables with tofu and eat it over rice or add the vegetables to your soup or as a side.
  • Popcorn is a delicious snack option that is super cheap! We buy loose kernels and cook them without oil on the stove.
  • Only shop for groceries that will last for a few days if possible. This counts especially when talking about produce. Wasted food is wasted money.
  • Save scraps of your vegetables in a freezer bag for when you need vegetable broth. You can put the vegetables in a cheesecloth in water and seasoning to make your own broth at home.
  • Meal prep your lunches so you don’t end up ordering takeout or going through the drive through. Those costs add up and there aren’t many healthy options available (at least not near me).
  • Hearty soups are not only great for the winter, but are affordable and delicious. Include sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, celery, and other vegetables to keep you satiated. Package up leftovers in reusable containers with enough for each meal and take it out during the week. If need be, freeze leftovers and thaw when ready.
  • Salads are relatively cheap to make! Buy kale and spinach, add chickpeas, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and any toppings you enjoy. Dip your salad bites into a cup of dressing to use less dressing than pouring it over the top.
  • Applesauce is a great sweet snack. You can buy a container of it or small cups. I always buy the unsweetened applesauce that is just apples and, if I want something a little extra, I can add some cinnamon.

There are a million different ways to make your diet a little healthier. All it takes is a little planning and you can maintain a healthy diet while staying within your budget.

Take care of yourself.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Micro & Macro Nutrients

One of the first questions I get when I tell someone I am vegan is if I take a bunch of vitamins. The truth is no, I don’t take any vitamins. A lot of vegan do use supplements, but I am horrible about remembering to take medication and vitamins, so I have opted out of it. Not to mention, I would much rather get my micro and macro nutrients from natural sources. My doctor is aware of my dietary choices and my blood work looks great, so I am currently not worried about it.

Protein is a huge concern for people when learning about a vegan lifestyle. I have heard a million times “what about protein?”, but what people don’t realize is there are ton of non-meat protein sources. Here are some helpful tips for including protein-rich foods in your daily life.

  • Almonds, peanuts, cashews and other nuts are famous for being protein-packed. You can make cheese and mayo spreads from cashews. You can make almond butter and peanut butter to spread on your toast or eat with fruit. I love to make our own trail mix with cashews, almonds, dried cranberries, dried coconut, and pumpkin seeds for a protein-filled snack.
  • Chickpeas are ones of my favorite foods. I eat them almost every day and they are so versatile. They can be seasoned and baked for an on-the-go snack or added to your salad. Regular cooked chickpeas are even great for salads. I love hummus. It’s one of my staple lunch foods. You can make your own or buy some already made and there are dozens of different flavor options. You can choose from crushed red pepper, garlic, original, artichoke, jalapeno lemon, dill, or any other flavor that you prefer. I usually pack hummus with some baby carrots and celery for part of my lunch at work. We also love to eat hummus with corn tortillas. You should definitely try it sometime!
  • Tofu is another great protein option. We don’t eat much tofu because I worry about too much soy intake, but a lot of vegetarians and vegans enjoy tofu in their recipes. A lot of Indian inspired dishes include tofu. It takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with, so when we do use tofu, we like to add a lot of spices. It is even an option for some cheese alternatives such as the ricotta in lasagna.
  • I’m sure this comes as a no-brainer for you, but beans are a great protein source too. Beans and rice are an awesome budget-friendly meal. We love vegan chili and it is packed with beans and warms up great as leftovers. A lot of vegan brownie recipes call for black beans too. I am not a baker, so I haven’t tried my hand at making brownies, but I think it’s a great idea.

Iron deficiency (anemia) is a concern that I personally have. Women are at a higher risk for anemia than men, but vegetarian and vegans alike are concerned with the decrease in iron-rich foods. Meat products are a large component of iron in people’s diets, so being vegan means being in-the-know about alternatives.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are great sources of iron. Broccoli is great raw or steamed. Kale and spinach are incredibly versatile ingredients. They can be eaten in salads, wraps, and sandwiches. I like to massage my kale before eating it raw because it mellows out the flavor and texture, but my husband loves the strong taste. They are also great cooked in soups because they wilt and coordinate well with many flavors. Because of the vitamin K substance in dark green leafy vegetables, I suggest consulting your doctor if you take the medication Coumadin (Warfarin) before increasing your consumption of these foods. If you are taking Coumadin, the vitamin K could decrease the medication’s effectiveness.
  • Soy products such as tofu and tempeh are packed with iron too!
  • Pumpkin, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds are great sources of iron. Pumpkin seeds can be bought in bulk and added to trail mix. You can also season and bake fresh pumpkin seeds. Any of these can be added to salads for a bit of extra crunch or, if you make your own bread, you can add sesame and/or flax seeds to your loaf.
  • A physician I used to work with told me that coconut palm sugar is an ingredient she uses when she becomes anemic. I started using it in moderation instead of regular white sugar and I haven’t even noticed a difference in taste.

Vitamin D is a micro-nutrient that people in the northeast (vegans and non-vegans alike) struggle to consume enough of. Companies have actually resorted to fortifying some foods with vitamin D (such as cereals and dairy products). Living in an area that doesn’t see much sunshine can increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency because our skin is made to create the vitamin from the sun’s exposure. This is a large contributor to seasonal depression.

  • Mushrooms are an easy-additive for vitamin D intake. We add mushrooms to many of our favorite foods including salads, sandwiches, sauces, pizzas, soups and anything else that we can sneak it into. Mushrooms have a lot of medicinal properties and some studies suggest that the consumption of mushrooms on a daily basis can decrease a person’s risk for cancer.
  • Just like cow’s milk, some almond and soy milks are fortified with vitamin D. We prefer unsweetened original almond milk, but you should use what you think tastes best.
  • If you have the opportunity to enjoy sunlight, it’s the best (and cheapest) way to increase your vitamin D intake. Being outside with exposed skin allows your body to create vitamin D intrinsically.
  •  Oh, tofu has vitamin D too!

 

There are so many foods that are nutrient dense and contain one or more of the above listed items. A lot of people utilize tools and apps such as “MyFitnessPal” to track their micro and macro-nutrients. I personally have decided to eat intuitively instead of tracking, but you should find what works best for you. With any diet or lifestyle change, it may get a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor beforehand. He/She will be able to guide you in the best health-conscious direction for your body’s specific needs.

Knowledge is power.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Holy Guacamole

Avocados are my jam. Not only do we eat an abundance of avocado toast for breakfast (or lunch or snack or dinner), but guacamole is a staple in our house. We love the spicy guacamole from Aldi, but nothing beats the fresh homemade stuff.

Avocado is an amazing source of healthy fats. When i first became vegetarian (and then vegan) my periods became even more irregular and it would be a week (or more) late. After some research I contributed it to a lack of fat in my diet. I wasn’t eating nuts, avocados, or any other sources of fat. I was focused on losing weight, but I needed to remember to eat those (health) fat rich foods.

I don’t have a specific recipe for guacamole because I just use what we have available in our home. Mash the ripe avocados in a bowl. I love to add chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and lime or lemon juice. Sometimes we will add chopped jalapenos and/or cilantro if we have it. Taste it and add ingredients accordingly.

Guacamole is great on toast, bagels, baked sweet potatoes, chips, carrots, celery, sweet peppers, and pretty much anything else you can get your hands on.

If you’re feeling lazy, slice an avocado and put it on toast with some salt and pepper to taste. So delicious!

Try out your own guacamole recipe and let me know what you think!

Love Always,

Elizabeth

A Day of Thanks

It’s officially the day of thanks in the United States. I don’t care how cliche this sounds, but I think that we should focus on what we have to be thankful for more than one day a year. In one of my first blogs I wrote about how I first started journaling, with my grateful lists. Every day I would write at least five things that I am grateful for that day. I challenge you to start your grateful list and continue it until the new year.

I don’t want to talk about the politics surrounding Thanksgiving or if we should or should not celebrate it, but I do want to touch base on what Thanksgiving means to me. To me, it’s all about getting family together. It’s an excuse to all sit down at the table and have a meal together. It’s a reason to travel and enjoy the presence of the people that we have with us (and the memories of those that are no longer here).

What are your plans this year? It’s our first year hosting Thanksgiving at our home and I have to admit that I am very nervous. We will be having my husband’s family over for their (and our) first vegan Thanksgiving dinner. I have faith that everything will be okay, but of course I am nervous that a million things could go wrong. If you know me, you know that I am not the chef in the house. My idea of cooking is whatever is easiest while still tasting amazing. So, because I am the one doing most of the planning, I’m hoping this will be an easy-yet-tasty day for all.

It’s weird to think that this holiday (one that is surrounded by the idea of food) is based upon one specific meat product. It’ll be interesting to see what my in-laws think of our stuffed butternut squash instead of a turkey. Fingers crossed.

So being that it is the day before Thanksgiving, I spent the night at the grocery store fighting the crowd of procrastinators (no shame, I am one of them) and now am baking tomorrow’s desserts. I do not love baking to say lightly. It’s never something I look forward to, so it has been a test to my patience. I have already forgotten to grease the pie pan (Pyrex dish because I forgot to buy a pie dish) for the pumpkin pie and added way too much vegetable shortening to the cranberry & blueberry crisp (because I didn’t double check the measuring spoon). But now I am sitting down, taking a deep breath, and allowing myself to be proud that I did it and that no matter how it all turns out tomorrow, we will have had hosted our first (vegan) Thanksgiving with my in-laws.

On a semi-related subject, I started a new job this week. On my second day, they had me pick an option for the Christmas party coming up. The options were prime rib, chicken, or lasagna…so the conversation of me being a vegan arose. It took all of one and a half days for the subject to come up. And then the questions started about what I can (and cannot) eat. They were super nice about it and curious which I am incredibly grateful for, but it’s always an anxiety-inducing topic. I never know if it will become a lecture about protein intake, calories, and calcium (especially when the audience is a bunch of nurses). No, I can’t have ice cream. No, I can’t eat eggs. But I CAN eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes… The only things I can’t have are animal products. When they hear about how much weight I’ve lost and how well my body has adapted and is now digesting, there usually isn’t much of an objection heard. And of course, since it’s Thanksgiving time, they wondered about the turkey. For some people it’s crazy to think about a food-based holiday being tampered with. But I will tell you, once I listed what foods we were having (green bean casserole, stuffed butternut squash, stuffing, stuffed mushrooms, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce…) I’m pretty sure everyone would have loved to come for dinner. It’s not that much different from a “regular” Thanksgiving dinner – just a few substitutions and a different main course. No big deal.

If we can do this, so can you.

Whatever your Thanksgiving plans may be, I hope you are surrounded by people you love, devour the food you enjoy, and create memories to be cherished this holiday season.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Chinese and Burgers and Vegans…Oh My!

I often hear “I could never do that” when people find out that I’m vegan. Either they would miss hamburgers, Chinese food, cheese… but guess what… you don’t have to go without. There are so many amazing recipes out there that will curb any craving. We are so lucky that we have the internet today, so these recipes are right at our fingertips. When we find a new favorite, we write it on index cards with where the recipe is from and file it into our box. Here are two of the recipes we tried this week and will be making again soon.

Sweet and Sour Chickpeas Peppers Broccoli: This recipe was found on veganricha.com and is so amazing that we are actually going to have it again tonight. It was super quick and easy (we already had all of the ingredients at home). Including prep and cook time, it takes about thirty minutes to finish.

Sweet and sour sauce:
-1/4 cup sugar (I used 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar)
-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
-2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
-1.5 tbsp ketchup
-2 tsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 tbsp water

Chickpeas and vegetables:
-1 tsp oil
-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
-1/2 large red bell pepper thinly sliced
-1/2 green bell pepper thinly sliced
-1 cup small broccoli florets
-15 ounces chickpeas or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
-generous dash salt, pepper, and cayenne

To Thicken:
-2 tbsp water
-2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:
1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside
2. Heat oil over medium high heat on a large skillet. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent.
3. Add the peppers and mix in. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the broccoli and mix in. Cover and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the chickpeas, sauce ingredients, a generous dash of salt, black pepper and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
6. Taste the sauce carefully and adjust to preference. Add more sour, sugar, or salt.
7. Mix cornstarch in room temperature water and add the mixture to the pan. Mix in. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
8. Garnish with sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and and scallions and serve with cooked rice or grain of choice.

Tips: Instead of a half of each bell pepper, we used one whole green pepper. They are cheaper where we live and then we would have less possible waste. Additionally, we used cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, but really anything would be great with this dish. We only added sesame seeds for garnish, but it was delicious without the scallions or red pepper flakes anyway.

 

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger with Basil Aioli: This recipe is from Wellvegan.com and will curb any craving of a delicious burger without the animal cruelty. Not to mention, the aioli is seriously to die for. I would put it on anything (and I am not even a mayo person). My husband and I loved them so much that we both had two each and I have been thinking about them all morning. This is super easy and beats any vegan frozen burger (or even restaurant burger) we have had.

Vegan Aioli Ingredients:
– 1 cup Vegan Mayo
– 3 garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
– 24 fresh basil leaves, thinly slivered
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– salt
– fresh ground pepper

Portobello Burger Ingredients:
– 4 large portobello mushrooms, wiped clean with dampened paper towels
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tomato, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
– 1 bunch arugula, washed and spun dry
– 4 hamburger buns
– salt
– fresh ground pepper

Instructions:
1. To make the basil aioli: combine all ingredients for aioli in a small bowl and mix with a whisk

2. For the Portobello Burgers: Cut the stems off the portobello mushrooms flush with the mushroom caps. Using the tip of a  paring knife, make tiny holes in the caps.

3. Combine the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Generously brush the portobello caps and mushroom slices with some of the oil and vinegar mixture and season them with salt and pepper.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

5. Arrange the portobello caps, rounded side down, grill until nicely browned and soft, about 3-6 minutes per side.

6. Spread the inside of the rolls or buns with basil aioli. Add the grilled mushrooms, tomato slices, and arugula.

Tips: We decided not to marinade and grill the tomatoes and instead we just sliced fresh tomato and topped the burgers with them. I used JUST mayo, but you can use any vegan mayo. You could even make your own! I know that plantbasedcookingshow.com has a couple recipes available and I have never tried a recipe of hers that I haven’t liked. She even has a chipotle mayo recipe that is amazing and definitely didn’t last long in my house.

 

I strongly suggest you try one (or both) of these recipes! You will not regret it. I am no chef, but I know my food and these were both delicious and super easy to make. They’d be great weekday meals or just special treats when you are having a special craving. Are you having non-vegan friends over for dinner? These would be great meals to have them try too – as long as there are no food allergy issues. The sweet and sour chicken tastes just like something I would get from my favorite take-out place. You could even sub-out the chickpeas for tofu! Play around with these and let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Vegan Wedding Guest

We have been meat-free for about five months now and vegan for only a month and a half. It’s been a relatively easy transition and in day-to-day “normal” life, there haven’t been any issues. I was, however, nervous about attending a wedding for the first time while having dietary restrictions. I hate making a fuss and was wondering how on earth I could make sure I eat and feel well-nourished while keeping things low-key about my lifestyle. If you are vegetarian or vegan, chances are that you know how these sorts of conversations can go. Mostly everyone that I have encountered is accepting of veganism, but some become defensive of their lifestyle in response. I will reserve my comments on how I have handled those sorts of situations for a later blog post. Needless to say, I wanted this to be a comfortable, fun, and mostly covert mission. This required a bit of planning, but mostly we just winged it.

What we did know was that we would be driving about four hours each way and staying in a hotel overnight. We decided to bring an insulated cooler bag with us and filled it with our favorite snacks from home. These snacks included clementines, apples, almonds, dates, raisins, rice cakes, and peanut butter. We didn’t make a special grocery trip, just packed what we had available at home. We even brought our own utensils that we could use and wash later if needed. Oh, and don’t forget water! We packed a couple mason jars full of water for our trip with plans to refill them when needed. We were so happy that we brought our own snacks instead of having to stop for something to eat along the way (because we forgot to eat breakfast before we left…ooops). So for breakfast we had almonds and fruit with water.

When we got there, we had over an hour to spare. After locating the venue, we finally went on a hunt for food. Sandwiches have become our guilty pleasure recently, so we found ourselves at a sub shop. We ordered a veggie sub sans cheese to share. They only charging us for the vegetables and bread that we wanted. We ended up paying less than $3 for a sub that we expected to cost us $13. I was so shocked and grateful (and full). If I could give you one tip for going to a wedding or event that might not be vegan-friendly, I would say to eat ahead of time. I’m sure my husband was glad we stopped for food because I get really grumpy when I’m hungry.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful and the couple looked so happy and in love. It has been a long time since I’ve been a guest at a wedding and not the photographer. It was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the personal vows without having to worry about capturing every moment.

The cocktail hour was a lifesaver. There were so many fresh fruits and vegetables available. I filled up on cauliflower, watermelon, honeydew melon, and any other produce that I could find. A lot of weddings include veggies with dips or salads. Most veggie dips are not dairy-free, but the vegetables are! You could dip your veggies in vinegar if you find some at a salad station. Not to mention, salads are great too! Fill your plate with lots of greens to satiate your hunger. Balsamic vinegar (or oil and vinegar in a pinch) work as great salad dressings that are often available. Any option that you enjoy and is offered, take advantage of!

When dinner was ready to be served, I was still full from the cocktail hour. I ended up ordering one of the options and giving the meat to a family member while keeping the roasted vegetables for myself. You could always just ask the staff if they could send you a plate of whatever vegetables they have (with no butter added) or a salad instead of a meat option. I’m sure a lot of places could accommodate that! God forbid there weren’t viable options, I packed almonds and dates that would give me a substantial caloric intake to get by on.

After dancing and partying with family, we walked to our hotel and took our shoes off. We were so tired from traveling and then celebrating with our loved ones. But we were also super hungry! So we ordered a pizza for delivery without cheese, but with our favorite toppings (pineapple and jalapenos – go ahead and judge, you pineapple haters, but it is delicious). It was a great way to end an awesome day.

Our hotel offered complimentary breakfast and we fully took advantage of that. I ate some assorted fruits (orange slices, melon, and pineapple) with a slice of peanut butter toast. I also grabbed an apple to-go for the ride home. Oh, and don’t forget about water! They had water in one of the juice fountains and you could fill your cups (or mason jars) as you please. I took full advantage of that.

We were still on the way home around lunch time. We stopped for flatbread sandwiches (surprise, surprise) at a local shop off the highway. And then we continued on our journey home.

Sure, we definitely didn’t eat the healthiest, but we stuck to our guns and made it work for us. We definitely could have subbed out the sandwiches (pun intended) for salads. We also could have snacked on our healthy treats that we packed instead of devouring an entire pizza, but life is about balance. It’s about eating your chickpea and spinach salads (which I am currently enjoying while writing this), but also eating pizza and sandwiches sometimes too.

Maybe next time we will do things differently and make healthier decisions, but I definitely don’t regret the decisions we made. We got to enjoy some of our favorite foods and had a great time celebrating with family.

Don’t think of these types of events as a struggle, but instead as a challenge. Be creative and make it work for you and your family.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Traveling Vegan

Traveling while living a vegan lifestyle can be challenging, but there are some tips and tricks to help make things more manageable.

  1. Pack snacks: Finding healthy and vegan snacks can be difficult, but not when you are prepared. I recently went on a bus trip with my mom to NYC for the day. I was so glad that I packed snacks to tie me over until we found a restaurant for lunch. I packed an apple, some almonds, seasoned pumpkin seeds, and trail mix. Oh, and water! Staying hydrated while traveling is so important. It’s easy to forget about fluid intake when you are enveloped in your surroundings.
  2. Do your research ahead of time: If you know where you will be traveling to, you can search for local restaurants that cater to your needs. Find something that is close to where you will be and try something new! Don’t spend your whole trip traveling, find something local to you.
  3. Vendor Carts: If you are going to a city like New York, you will see dozens of vendors lining the streets. I never thought I would be able to buy from one of those carts again. And then I saw produce carts. Bananas, apples, and just about any other fruit or vegetable is an easy, portable, and delicious snack that you can grab-and-go with.
  4. This isn’t necessarily food related, but traveling can make you feel sluggish and full. If and when you can, walk to your locations. This will allow you to enjoy the local scenery while enticing you to stay local. You would be surprised how many steps you can get in while choosing things like hiking, walking around parks, and exploring museums to do on your trip.

 

Traveling can be stressful, but with a little planning, you can have the best of both worlds. You can live a healthy lifestyle and travel at the same time.

Take care of yourself and travel the world.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Meal Prepping Tips

Meal prepping is something that I have struggled with a lot, but am working on. I am that person who puts together a lunch in the morning with whatever can be found in the kitchen. I have learned a lot in the past few months about what works and doesn’t work for my family. Here are some tips and tricks for healthy and delicious meal prepping.

  1. Plan your meals before you grocery shop: I am guilty of grocery shopping and then having to go back out to the store because I didn’t get everything I needed for lunches. Depending on your schedule and location, you might only be able to get to the store once a week. Make sure you schedule the time to meal prep beforehand so you can save yourself time and money. Every time you go to the store is another opportunity to make unnecessary purchases. If you are working on your budgeting skills, try limiting the number of times that you go to the store and sticking to a list of needed supplies.
  2. Prep 3 days at a time: I feel like this is a manageable amount of prepping that can be done easily while the food maintains freshness. For us, meal prepping is easiest on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. On Sundays we make a crockpot meal such as soup or chili and section them into enough storage containers for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then on Wednesday, we will food prep for Thursday and Friday with veggies (baby carrots and celery), hummus, peanut butter, and strawberries for example. You can switch up the crockpot meal, veggies, and fruit or do a spinach with chickpea salad.
  3. Use several different sized containers: We have reusable containers that we use regularly (mostly glass, but some plastic). This decreases our waste from plastic baggies. Using different sized containers to hold hummus, salad dressing, and other condiments, can keep your foods from getting soggy. And three days isn’t long enough to wilt vegetables in a covered container.
  4. Stock up on regularly used items: We usually stock up on things like chickpeas that we use frequently and have a long shelf-life. Check your local newspaper for sales in your area or get an app such as “Flipp” to find places to get the best deals on your favorite items. I even have the Walmart app that allows me to scan in receipts and if they find a better deal elsewhere, I am refunded the difference. I have actually gotten back money on that app on things that I normally would buy anyway! We purchase most of our food from Aldi and Wegmans, but I’m sure you can find awesome deals near you if you look closely. Planning ahead of time for meals can decrease your stress levels from doing it last minute and help you to find the best prices for what you need.
  5. Check Online: If you are struggling to figure out easy recipes for lunches, don’t be afraid to check out blogs, websites, and Pinterest to save the day! I love searching through blogs about people’s favorite recipes and can always find something that is both easy to prepare and vegan. Like I said earlier, crockpots are my favorite way to meal prep because it’s so easy. You can put it all together and just forget about it for hours. That’s my kind of cooking.

 

Take things three days at a time and before you know it, meal prepping will be a habit and a built-in part of your schedule. Planning your meals ahead of time helps to maintain a health diet at an affordable rate.

You got this.

Love Always,

Elizabeth